Mitch Albom, sportswriter and bestselling novelist, was born May 23, 1958 in Passaic, New Jersey. In his earlier years, Albom’s main goal had been to be a musician but once he came to New York his interest shifted to journalism. This would be the beginning of his path to be the writer we know today whose works have sold over millions of copies worldwide, and have even been adapted to screen. Albom has also been praised for his work in screenwriting, play writing, broadcasting, and, his first love, music.
With an interest in journalism piqued, Albom began working for the Queens Tribune. It proved to be the right move as it earned him a spot at Columbia University which ultimately led to a masters degree and PHD in the field. From then on Albom just kept climbing higher and higher. He easily earned the titles of freelance sports writer, columnist, lead columnist, and broadcaster, working for big names like Sports Illustrated, GEO, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit Free Press, and ESPN . His relationship with sports reporting continues to be a highly fruitful one and has earned him worldwide recognition and awards.
Albom’s first memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, and his first work not connected to sports, was inspired from a real occurrence in his life. Learning that an old professor, Morrie Schwartz, was suffering from ALS, Albom began to make regular visits to him on Tuesdays. Thus the idea for the book was born, with the intention that all proceeds it made would go to his old friend’s medical bills. Published in 1997, the book would quickly find its way to the New York Times Bestseller List, where it would stay for an impressive amount of years.
Published next in 2003 would be Albom’s first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The story of a man who has died and meets with five people who greatly impacted his life became another instant number one best selling success. Albom’s insight to human feelings, the relationships we have with others, and the ideas of what make life so special have been universally commended, all but making him an “expert” on the inner workings of being human. His works would continue with For One More Day (2006), where a son gets to spend a day with his long passed mother, another work that was inspired by events in Albom’s childhood. There then would be Have a Little Faith (2009), The Time Keeper (2012), The First Phone Call from Heaven (2014), The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto (2015), and The Stranger in the Lifeboat (2021). He even returned to his first novel to write a sequel, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, in 2018.
With these stories being so loved as they where (and still are), it’s not hard to imagine many had adaptations made for screen. Winner of four Emmy Awards, including Best TV Film, was Tuesdays with Morrie starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria in 1999. The project was produced by Oprah Winfrey, a big fan of Albom’s works. She additionally helped create Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s For One More Day in 2007 starring Michael Imperioli and Ellen Burstyn. The Five People You Meet in Heaven TV film aired 2004 with Jon Voight, Ellen Burstyn, and Jeff Daniels in the cast and attracted a monumental 19 million viewers. Have a Little Faith (2011) also had it’s go at television, with Laurence Fishburne in the lead role.
What better way to celebrate Mitch Albom’s birthday than to read one of his inspiring novels or watch one of their television counterparts? Even if that isn’t your cup of tea, there’s an endless amount of his nonfiction, especially sports related, to take in. But the possibilities don’t end there! Albom eventually revisited his original passion of music, and wrote many songs you can listen to today (found here on his website). Albom has truly shown to be a man of many talents, but more importantly a man who understands how to touch people’s hearts. Not even through his literature, but with the multiple charities he has founded as well. You can find many of the titles mentioned above and others on Libby and Hoopla and also by clicking on them below to see what library you can borrow them from. And don’t forget to wish this beloved author a Happy Birthday on May 23!
“As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed as ignorant as you were at twenty-two, you’d always be twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.”
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
Written by Margaret Andracchi
Reference Librarian, Will Library
Watched The Five People in You Meet in Heaven when I was very young, yet I still remember how sad it made me feel! But in a good way!